A new pitch to draw more into clinical trials

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The image of clinical trials needs an extreme makeover. But for now, the Ireland Cancer Center will settle for giving it a face lift.

A new video (right) will soon be released on the center’s Web site and given to cancer patients to convince them to participate in clinical trials.

It’s part of a broader effort at the center to within two years increase participation in trials – which hovers at 13 or 14 percent – to up to 18 percent, said Dr. Stanton Gerson, director of the Ireland Cancer Center and the director of the NCI Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University.

Gerson said the video is an attempt to “decrease the barriers to asking questions.”

“We’ve seen many videos produced. For the most part they’ve been educational lectures,” he said. “We decided to produce one where we didn’t do any of the talking. This is from physicians, patients, families and nurses.”

Physicians, including Gerson, do make an appearance on the 11-minute video. The majority of the time, though, patients discuss what to expect during clinical trials, how past participation helped them, and how the trials themselves benefit them.

Recent evidence suggests that fear plays a role in avoiding clinical trials. But awareness is also one of the biggest barriers to getting patients into studies. Surveys from Harris Interactive over the past five years suggest that up to 85 percent of cancer patients didn’t know participation in clinical trials was an option.

Another Harris poll from 1995 said many physicians of all specialties don’t discuss clinical trials options with their patients.

Gerson agreed clinical trials would benefit from an aggressive marketing campaign, though he thinks the new video will help with that. “I view the family as a multiplier,” Gerson said, adding that for every 6,000 or so patients that receive the video, three times that many will likely watch it.

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